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Institute gears up for Commencement

The Commencement Committee, planning for a record crowd, has announced the full program for MIT's 132nd Commencement on Friday, June 5, at which President William J. Clinton will address some 2,250 seniors and graduate students and more than 9,000 relatives and guests.

Professor Joel Moses will be presiding at his final Commencement as provost and Alex d'Arbeloff at his first as chair of the MIT Corporation. Provost Moses will step down on August 1 and return to research and teaching.

President Clinton, the first sitting president to speak at MIT, will deliver only two other Commencement speeches this year, at the Naval Academy on May 22 and Portland State University in Oregon on June 13.

Other speakers at this year's Commencement will include Geoffrey J. Coram, president of the Graduate Student Council, and Salman A. Khan, president of the Class of 1998. The invocation will be given by Swami Sarvagatunanda of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society.

Dr. David Ho, scientific director and chief executive officer of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York, also will speak. When White House representatives contacted MIT last month to schedule the President's speech, Dr. Ho said he would be honored "to share the podium with President Clinton." Dr. Ho accepted an invitation to speak in February. In order to accommodate two speakers, President Charles Vest will forgo his traditional charge to the graduates.

"We are honored and delighted that President Clinton has selected MIT as the place to deliver a major address to people who will be leaders of the 21st century," said President Vest. "The future will be shaped in large measure by advances in science and technology, and MIT is the home of many of the people making these advances. We look forward to the President's address and his vision."

The Commencement speaker in 1997 was United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan; in 1996, the speaker was Vice President Albert Gore Jr.

For the awarding of more than 2,700 degrees (a number of graduates get more than one), Dr. Vest will present diplomas to the bachelor of science degree recipients and those receiving both bachelor of science and master of science degrees, while Provost Joel Moses will give out the doctoral, engineering and other master's degrees. The two lines of students will approach the stage simultaneously as their names are announced in an alternating pattern.

Those receiving their doctoral degrees also will attend a special hooding ceremony on the day before Commencement (Thursday, June 4) in Rockwell Cage. At that ceremony, department heads or their representatives will assist the school deans in hooding the degree recipients. Receptions will be held for the graduates and their guests.

Following Friday's Commencement program, President and Mrs. Rebecca Vest will hold a reception for graduates and their guests at several locations in or near McDermott Court.

A second important event awaits some of the graduates, relatives and guests on Commencement day. At 6pm on Friday, a commissioning ceremony will be held for 25 graduating cadets and midshipmen in MIT's Army, Air Force and Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) units under the masts of the historic frigate USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard Historical Park. The speaker will be Rear Admiral John B. Padgett III, commander of Submarine Group Two in Groton, CT.


Commencement tickets will be distributed beginning Tuesday, May 26, the Commencement Committee has announced. The previously announced distribution date of May 18 had to be changed because details on security remain pending.

Tickets will be distributed to degree recipients -- four tickets per graduate -- in the Information Center (Rm 7-121) from 9am-5pm on May 26-29 and from 9am-6pm on June 1-4. The hours and location of ticket distribution on Commencement Day will be announced later.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 13, 1998.

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